Pharyngula

The feeble Ken Ham show

I knew the internet would come through with just the right clip and the relevant extracted words, so I wouldn’t have to sit through the wretched miasma of the whole O’Reilly Factor to see Krauss vs. Ham, and here it is.

Jason has a transcript, if you’d prefer to read text rather than watch some guys talk.

Krauss did OK: he was assertive, like you have to be on these shows, and he got in one or two strong sentences (ahh, for a television show that permitted people to express whole paragraphs of ideas…but I dream). I’m not a big fan of Krauss’s strategy of conceding too much credibility to theism, though, so maybe it’s just as well he didn’t get to say overmuch on that them. I was just starting to get irritated at his claim that “science doesn’t disprove the fact that there potentially is purpose to the universe” — a half truth; science also doesn’t disprove the fact that there are potentially space-monkeys living on Uranus, either, and at the same time there is evidence that the universe is not demonstrating much in the way of purpose — but then Ken Ham was conveniently there to draw my ire.

Ken Ham definitely gives off a creepy vibe. He’s a weird-looking guy, with dead eyes and a lipless gash of a mouth, and he only looks uncomfortable in these situations where he’s not preaching off a script. If you browse around youtube, you’ll find several recent clips of Ham giving interviews, and you can tell when he’s on script—he says the same things every time! The bits where he starts talking about “PhD scientists, to show them that we can use the science of genetics, biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, to confirm the Bible’s history” the words are rote, repeated in just about every interview. They’re also false. Science contradicts his claim that the earth is 6,000 years old.

One interesting revelation was that their opening day attendance was 4,000 people. That’s pretty good, in a sense, but in others it’s not very impressive. This was the opening day of a fake “museum” that has been getting extensive media attention, and most of the US news reports have been credulous and fawning. Four thousand is inconsequential. Their attendance is going to drop off rapidly from this point on, and after all the skeptics make their one-time-only visits, there isn’t going to be much to draw in repeat visitors. Real museums have to sink a lot of money and effort into ongoing research and new exhibits; they aren’t dead and dusty halls of unchanging eternal truths, but dynamic reflections of work that is progressing.

Ken Ham’s folly is as dead as his eyes. He’s going to be relying on church groups busing in captive coffles of visitors after this, which is admittedly a fairly large audience, but it’s questionable whether that’s going to be sufficient to maintain even a static institution of that size. And remember: we’re working to erode away his audience by turning religion into a hazy memory, and without the lies and delusions promoted by the churches, Ham’s cabinet of curiousities is going to be as barren as a tomb. Let’s make marketing to the gullible religious as futile as pinning marketshare growth on appeal to the Shakers.

Comments

  1. #1 Ichthyic
    May 30, 2007

    . The interviewer on the show tried to bring the two sides together, and I think did a pretty good job in the time allotted. There is room for both, but the Xtians will have to let go of literalism.

    ridiculous.

    here’s your argument taken a few hundred years back:

    intuitivist:

    the world is flat – hell i can see it is just by looking at it.

    scientist:

    uh, no, it’s round, and I have proof, you just need to learn to understand what the proof is, and why it is counter-intuitive.

    oh yes, such a good idea to think the two positions can be melded.

    *sigh*

  2. #2 Science Goddess
    June 2, 2007

    Hi Kseniya: There was a wonderful clip on (I think) YouTube in which Neil DeGrasse Tyson takes on Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is scolded for having too many “teeth” in his presentation. A lot like some of the posts above. I think “scolding” is perhaps too harsh. I know plenty of Xtians who are intelligent, thoughtful people who fully accept science in all its manifestations, but still believe in a god. I know caring, responsible thoughtful people who would be an asset to any community, except that they’re fundies. I can’t bring myself to “scold” any of these folks. What I do is try to show how evolution works, and present it in a non-threatening way. How they reconcile with their version of Xtianity is not my business. As I said above, Michael Shermer in his book “How we Believe” says that our brains are hard-wired to fabricate gods. Stephen Baxter in his book “Evolution” claims that early hominid shamans controlled breeding and thereby bred out the non-compliant. If these ideas are even remotely accurate, most people can’t help believing, and in a closed society (like the fundies) this is just reinforced. So why are we so angry? I know they sound stupid, but they, like us are the products of their genes and environment. We can change the environment, but we can’t pound and scold them.

    Of course, none of this applies to the rip-off artists out there who are out to make a buck, the Falwells and the Hams and the Hovinds.

    SG

  3. #3 Gordon
    December 20, 2008

    You may enjoy this photo of the ubiquitous Mr Ham:

    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/gordonhudsonnu/Sillypics#5159736150297393762

    I am a naughty, naughty boy and I deserve to be punished for eternity for that photoshop exercise.

  4. #4 Emmet Caulfield
    December 20, 2008

    There was a wonderful clip on (I think) YouTube in which Neil DeGrasse Tyson takes on Richard Dawkins.

    It is indeed wonderful; from the original Beyond Belief conference:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2xGIwQfik

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